“It’s a crucial part of the legacy I’m building,” says Gary, serial entrepreneur and founder of VaynerMedia.
“I want to build big businesses and buy the Jets, but I want to do it by being a good guy. I have zero interest in building the biggest building by tearing other people down.”
Gary points out that kindness is a massive advantage for one key reason: “you can only be kind if you feel that you’re coming from a place of leverage,” he says.
That means being confident and secure in yourself and what you have to offer.
“As I go through my own life,” says Gary, “I’m realising more and more how kindness is such a big part of the equation. It’s not just about sales and negotiation. It’s not just about doing what you love. It’s not just about hustle.”
“People don’t get that kindness is the best business strategy.”
“If you give value to someone else first in business, you have the leverage,” says Gary.
The more Gary gives in his business relationships, the more his reputation grows. And with such a vast network (he has over 6.9 million followers on Instagram alone), there’s a good chance that some of the ‘nobodies’ he does something nice for today will turn out to be big ‘somebodies’ in the future.
“You never know what opportunities you’d get behind your back by being a good person,” he says. “You’d never know what kind of opportunities you’d lose by being a bad person.”
The hardest part of seeing kindness as a business strategy, Gary says, is that bad behaviour is so often rewarded in the short term. It’s easy to think that the ‘hard’ leaders are the ones who succeed because those are often the ones we see clawing their way to the top.
Kindness is part of playing a longer game.
“If you’re using negativity to control people who are working for you, they’ll build resentment that’ll affect your business long term,” says Gary.
And that kind of success can only last so long.
To make sure kindness is baked into the company culture at VaynerMedia, Gary has made the head of HR the second most important person in the company.
“If there’s ever any debate between what’s good for our people and what’s good for our bottom line,” says Gary, “she’ll win that debate 9 out of 10 times.”
“The reality is, the amount of opportunity gained by good people because of their kindness is enormous,” Gary says.
“Think about it. How many times have you done something that’s affected a person’s life entirely based on how you felt about them? It happens all the time.”
“Kindness always gets rewarded. Somebody is always watching.”
But it’s important not to expect anything in return, Gary warns. You have to be able to give from a place of generosity, not expectation.
“And,” Gary says, “when you come from that place, you’ll get more opportunities than you know what to do with.”